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Where she is nourished for a time, and times, and lralf a time,
And the people being settled
These especially were those virgins who were not defiled with the rest of women, or when other women prostituted. themselves and were defiled; but they kept themselves pure for Christ. alone : They followed the Lambs, their spiritual Busband, whithersoever he went : They followed him into this hideous wilderness, Rev. xiv. 4, 5........ Their doctrine and their worship, as there still remain accounts of them, appear to be the same with the Protestant doctrine and worship ; and by the confession of Popish writers, they were a people remarkable for the strictness of their lives, for charity and other Christian virtues. They lived in external poverty in this bideous country ; but they chose this rather than to comply with the great corruptions of the rest of the world.
They living in so secret a place, it was a long time before they seem to have been much taken notice of by the Romanists; but at last falling under observation, they went out in mighty armies against them, and fell upon them with insatiable cruelty, barbarously massacring and putting to death men, women, and children, with all imaginable tortures ; and so continued persecuting them with but little intermission for several hundred years ; by which means many of them were driven out of their old habitations in the valleys of Piedmont, and filed into all parts of Europe, carrying with them their doctrine, to which many were brought over.
So their persecule tors could not by all their cruelties extirpate the church of God; so fulfilling his word, “that the gates of hell should not prevail against it.
(4) Towards the latter part of this dark time, several noted divines openly appeared to defend the truth, and bear testimony against the corruptions of the church of Rome, and had many followers. The first and principal of these was a certain English divine, whose name was John Wickliff, who ap
peared about 140 years before the Reformation, and strentpusly opposed the Popish religion, and taught the same doctrine that the Reformers afterwards did, and had many followers in England. He was hotly persecuted in his life time, yet died in peace ; and after he was buried, his bonés were dug up by his persecutors, and burnt. His followers remained in considerable numbers in England till the Reformation, and were cruelly persecuted, and multitudes put to death for their religion.
Wickliff had many disciples and followers, not only in England, but in other parts of Europe, whither his books were carried and particularly in Bohemia, among whom were two eminent divines, the name of one was John Huss, the other's name was Jerom, a divine belonging to Prague, the chief city of Bohemia. These strenuously opposed the church of Rome, and had many who adhered to them.' They were both burit by the Papists for their doctrine ; and their followers in Bohemia were cruelly persecuted, but never extirpated till the Reformation.
Thus having gone through this dark time of the church, which is the second part of the space from Constantine the Great to the destruction of Antichrist, I come now,
Sdly. To the third part, viz. that which begins with the Reformation, and reaches to the present time. And here I would, 1. Speak of the Reformation itself ; 2. The opposition which the devil has made to the Reformed church ; 3. What success there has lately been of the gospel in one place and another ; 4. What the state of things is now in the world with regard to the church of Christ, and the success of his purchase.
1. Here the first thing to be taken notice of is the Reformation. This was begun about 220 years ago : First in Saxony in Germany, by the preaching of Martin Luther, who, being stirred in his spirit, to see the horrid practices of the Popish clergy, and having set himself diligently to inquire after truth, by the study of the holy scriptures, and the writings of the ancient fathers of the church, very openly and boldly decried the corruptions and usurpations of the Romish church
in his preaching and writings, and had soon a great number that fell in with him ; among whom was the Elector of Şax-' ony, the sovereign prince of the country to which he belonged. This greatly alarmed the church of Rome ; and it did as it were rally all its force to oppose him and his doctrine, and fierce wars and persecutions were raised against it : But yet it went on, by the labors of Luther, and Melancthon in Germany, and Zuinglius in Switzerland, and other eminent divines, who were cotemporary with Luther, and fell in with him ; and particularly Calvin, who appeared something after the beginning of the Reformation, but was one of the most. eminent Reformers.
Many of the princes of Germany soon fell in with the Reformed religion, and many other states and kingdoms in Europe; as England, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, great part of France, Poland, Lithuania, Switzerland, and the Low Countries. So that it is thought, that heretofore about half Christendom were of the Protestant religion ; though, since, the Papists have gained ground : So that the Protestants now have not so great a proportion.
Thus God began gloriously to revive his church again, and advance the kingdom of his Son, after such a dismal night of darkness as had been before from the rise of Antichrist to that time. There had been many endeavors used, by the witnesses for the truth, for a reformation before. But now, when God's appointed time was come, his work was begun, and went on with a swift and wonderful progress; and Antichrist, who had been rising higher and higher from his very first beginning till that time, was swiftly and suddenly brought down, and fell half way towards utter ruin, and never has been able to rise again to his former height. A certain very late expositor (Mr. Lowman) who explains the five first vials, in the 16th chapter of Revelation, with greater probability perhaps than any who went before him, explains the fifth vial, which Was poured out on the seat of the beast, of what came to pass in the Reformation ; explaining the four preceding vials of certain great judgments God brought on the Popish dominions before the Reformation. It is said, Rev. xvi. 10, that
<< the fifth angel poured out his vial on the seat of the beast ;"
in the Reformation, the vials of God's wrath were
is carried headlong. They meet with darkness in the day time, and grope in the noon day as in the night. But he say: eth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the Land of the mighty.”
Those proud enemies of God's people, being so disappoint, ed, and finding themselves so unable to uphold their own do minion and authority, this made them as it were to gnaw their tongues for pain, or bite their tongues for mere rage.
2. I proceed therefore to show what opposition has been made to this success of Christ's purchase by the Reformation by Satan and his adhérents ; observing, as we go along, boy far they have been baffled, and how far they have been suc. cessful.
The opposition which Satan has made against the Reform. ed religion has been principally of the following kinds, viz. that which was made, 1, by a general council of the church of Rome ; 2, by secret plots and devices; 3, by open wars and mvasions ; 4, by cruel oppression and persecution ; and 5, by Bringing in corrupt opinions.
(1) The first opposition that I shall take notice of is that which was made by the clergy of the church of Rome uniting together in a general council. This was the famous council of Trent, which the Pope called a little while after the Reformation. In that council, there met together six capdinals, thirtytwo archbishops, two hundred and twentyeight bishops, besides innumerable others of the Romish clergy. This coun. cił, in all their sittings, including the times of intermission between their sittings, was held for twenty five years together. Their main business all this while was to concert measures for establishing the church of Rome against the. Reformers, and for destroying the Reformation. But it proved that they were not able to perform their enterprise. The Reformed church, notwithstanding their holding so great a council, and for so long a time together against it, remained, and remains still. So that the counsol of the froward is carried headlong, and their kingdom is full of darkness, and they weary. themselves to find the door.
Thus the church of Rome, instead of repenting of their deeds, when such clear light was held forth to them by Lu